J is for Jungle

My two-year-old LOVES monkeys, so he was so excited for our "J is for Jungle" unit that incorporated monkeys. Here are a few of the things we did during this unit:

Learning the Letter

J is the first letter of my older son's name, so he already knows this letter quite well. When I first taught him letters, I started with the letters of his name. He always gets excited when he finds another "J" word. "Jungle starts with J, LIKE ME!" He said in an excited voice when we started this unit. One thing we did to practice the shape of the letter J was do a "poke page." I got this idea from Confessions of a Homeschooler. You simple draw the letter on a piece of paper and then give your child some pushpins to poke into the shape of the letter. (Carefully supervise this of course!) This provides good fine motor practice and a nice break from doing a simple tracing page. For my older child who already knew the letter J so well, I didn't even have to draw the letter pattern--I just told him to use the pushpins to try to create a letter J on his own.

The Books We Read

Peek!: A Thai Hide-and-Seek Peek! A Thai Hide and Seek by Minfing Ho and Holly Meade
This is one of our favorite books. It is simple but lovely. I absolutely love the beautiful illustrations in this book. My kids love all of the animal sounds, and they like to point out the little girl who is hiding on each page as she plays "peek-a-boo" with her father.

Over in the Jungle: A Rainforest Rhyme  by Marianne Berkes and Jeanette Canyon
This book is based on the song "Over in the Meadow," so you can read the rhymes or sing along if you prefer! My kids loved the detailed, unique illustrations that were created with polymer clay. The end of the book also has some fun facts about the rainforest.

Jungle Bullies  by Steven Kroll and Vincent Nguyen
As each jungle animal is bullied, he seeks another smaller animal to push around. The pattern continues until finally a little monkey stands up to a bully and in the end all the animals learn to share and play together. It was a book with a good message for my two little boys who sometimes have trouble sharing space with each other.

Where's My Mom?  by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler
My boys loved this cute book about a butterfly who is trying to help a lost monkey find its mother.

"Slowly, Slowly, Slowly," said the Sloth  by Eric Carle
In this picture book by Eric Carle, the reader is able to meet many different creatures in the jungle as they all question why the sloth is so slow. I always love Eric Carle's illustrations.

Math Activities

We used some printables from this Rainforest Preschool Pack to work on math skills such as graphing, sorting, and sequencing.

Field Trip

We couldn't go to the real jungle, but we were able to pretend to visit the jungle. We went to the Zimmer Children's Museum in Los Angeles. There the boys dressed up and pretended to be explorers.

You could also do your own jungle expedition at your own home. Use green streamers to create jungle vines throughout your house and hide your stuffed animals all around the house. Then, take your binoculars and go on a safari to see how many animals you can find!


We had to do a monkey craft for my monkey lover! So we made these spider monkeys and hung them on the chain to our ceiling fan. (Check out the above link for some other great jungle-themed books and activities, too!)

We also made these cute paper plate tree frogs. We didn't have any dot paint markers, so I just pulled out a green ink pad and some stamps and let my kids stamp whatever designs they wanted on their paper plates. My kids both loved stamping.

For a letter craft, we did the "J is for Jungle" page from this website. The kids colored some jungle animals and made a letter J tree.


I love the monkey sandwich on this website. But since my boys don't care for peanut butter, we just pretended to be monkeys and ate bananas for our snack time. My kids also love animal crackers. We will get a large tub of animal crackers from Costco as an occasional treat. My kids often pick up the crackers and ask me what animal it is, and sometimes I really can't quite tell! But we have fun trying to figure out what the animals are. You can also combine math and snack time by counting your animal crackers, too :)

Games and Songs

I made the monkeys and crocodile finger puppets using the template here for the "Five Little Monkeys Swinging in a Tree" rhyme. My kids were crazy about these. They loved taking turns being the crocodile and snatching the monkeys off the fingers.

We also sang about jungle animals to the tune of the Wheels on the Bus. We chose different animals and sang verses for them i.e., "The monkeys in the jungle say oo-oo-ah, oo-oo-ah, oo-oo-ah, The monkeys in the jungle say oo-oo-ah, all day long" etc.

I've also been collecting additional ideas that I may use next time we do a jungle or rainforest theme. Go check out my "J is for Jungle" Pinterest board for more of these ideas.

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